The Condemned of Altona: A Play in Five Acts (Norton Library; N889)

The Condemned of Altona: A Play in Five Acts (Norton Library; N889)

Jean-Paul Sartre

Language: English

Pages: 186

ISBN: 0393008894

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Condemned of Altona: A Play in Five Acts (Norton Library; N889)

Jean-Paul Sartre

Language: English

Pages: 186

ISBN: 0393008894

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Condemned of Altona is a reminder that moral problems are real, irreducible and vital even when they are insoluble. It is, therefore, an event of first-rate importance. It is the work of one who is both a moral philosopher and a dramatist, of a writer who can present philosophical questions in the flesh and bones of concrete human situations.” ―Heinz Lubasz, The New Leader

The Condemned of Altona is an act of judgment on the twentieth century, which might have been an admirable era (the closing lines tell us) if man had not been threatened by ‘the cruel enemy who had sworn to destroy him, that hairless, evil, flesh-eating beast―man himself. ‘All the characters in the play are defendants, trapped inside the frame of the proscenium as securely as Eichmann within his glass cage in Jerusalem; their judge is the past, and its verdict is without mercy. Two death penalties are imposed, and one sentence of solitary confinement for life. The stage, as so often in M. Sartre’s hands, becomes a place of moral inquisition, at once a courtroom and a prison.

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everything at once. JOHANNA: That would be the best way to make him run straight up to his room again and lock himself in it forever. (Pause. The FATHER looks down at the carpet.) FATHER (dully): A ten-to-one chance that he'll open the door to you, a hundred-to-one that he'll listen to you, and a thousand-to-one that he'll answer you. If you had this thousand-to-one chance . . . JOHANNA: Well? FATHER: Would you agree to tell him that I am going to die? JOHANNA: Hasn't FATHER: NO. Leni . . . ?

nods.) Did you catch yourself? JOHANNA: What do you think? (She glances at the mirror uneasily.) I saw that. (She points to her reflection. Pause.) I used to go to the movies in the neighborhood. When the star Johanna Thies slid onto the far wall, I used to hear a little murmur. They were moved, each one by the other's emotion. I would look. . . . FRANZ: And then? JOHANNA: Then nothing. I never saw what they saw. (Pause.) What about you? FRANZ: I was the same as you. I was a failure. I was

of our agreement? JOHANNA {with an air of amused surprise): That's true; you have your rights. What a farce. {Almost in confidence) Everything is a farce on the ground floor, even you who are going to die. How do you manage to keep that rational expression? {Pause.) Fm sure you will understand nothing. {He was expecting thisy but is unable to avoid a certain anguish in hearing it.) FATHER: YOU saw Franz? {Pause.) When? Monday? JOHANNA: Monday, and every day since. FATHER: Every day! {Astounded)

the bolt back, and lowers the bar. Then she comes up to him, calm and unsmiling, with authority.) Good! {Pause.) What are you going to do? JOHANNA: What I have been doing since Monday. A shuttle service. FRANZ: And suppose I don't open the door? JOHANNA {calmly): You will. (FRANZ stoops down, picks up the watch and holds it to his ear. His face changes and his voice takes on a certain warmth. From this point a real understanding is established between them for a time.) FRANZ: We're in luck; it's

it. He is seated facing the audience, with his back to the bathroom, his head hidden by the opened paper, LENI knocks on the bathroom door.) LENI: Open up! I know you're there. JOHANNA (opening the door): All right. I don't like hiding. (In friendly tone) Hello! LENI (likewise): Hello! (JOHANNA, worried, pushes past LENI and goes straight to FRANZ. She looks at him as he is reading.) JOHANNA: Newspapers? (FRANZ does not even turn around. She turns to LENI.) You're moving fast. FRANZ LENI: I'm in

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